When to start table food

My daughter is 9 months old. How do I know when to start giving her food from the table? My husband is worried about her choking to death if given table food. We lost her twin at four days old due to a heart condition. We both worry a lot. How do I know she is getting enough or too much to eat? My son always quit eating or pushed food back out of his mouth. I have not observed that with her.

Help me please.

Stephanie, worried mom.

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Dear Stephanie,

Your nine month old daughter is probably ready to start table foods now if you have already been feeding her a variety of baby foods.

If she can handle thicker baby cereals and is showing up and down chewing motion of the jaw, she would probably enjoy something more than just purees. You really don't want to feed her directly from foods you are serving on the table but rather, solid foods that have been prepared more for her stage of development that give her some chewing stimulation and a chance to practice chewing.

Foods that she can pick up and feed herself will give her great satisfaction. Some good suggestions are soft cooked fruits and vegetables that are diced or fork mashed, finger size pieces of cereal, such as Cherrios and small pieces of soft bread. If you are uncertain, try gumming it yourself to see how easily it falls apart in your mouth. Meat, for instance, doesn't "gum" well and would be hard for your baby to manipulate yet. Maybe try some cooked, flaked fish.

Remember, this is a messy stage so be tolerant of foods not making it down her. It is possible that she, like all the rest of us, will choke on food now and again, but her coughing will clear it out. She will take food out of her mouth that is too difficult for her. Those foods that are choking hazards are round slippery foods that can get "shot" and lodged in the thoat by the way it is bitten, for example, hot dogs, because of the skin, when bitten off it can shoot into the back of the throat. Because it is round it can get caught and cause choking.

Other choking hazard foods include whole grapes, round hard candies, jelly beans, raw carrots, and peanuts.

Your daughter may have different cues than your son to let you know that she is full. When she gets easily distracted from eating, or turns her head away from the spoon may be some signs. Maybe her signs are just more subtle. If you stop before she is done she will probably let you know about it by demanding more.

If you aren't restricting how much she eats, you can be sure she is getting enough. Just be sure you don't interfere with her appetite messages. The more she is allowed to stay tuned to them, the less problems she and you will have later on.

Good luck and have fun with her!

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